Our Team of Pilots

Every product is tested and approved by these guys

Sporty’s was founded by a pilot over 55 years ago, and from the beginning our company has been for pilots and by pilots. Our broad experience and passion for aviation makes us uniquely qualified to offer only the finest, most unique aviation products. Before we sell a new product, every one is rigorously tested by our team of pilots in the real world of general aviation airplanes. They use products just like you would (and that means no instruction manuals!). If our panel doesn’t think a product is useful, easy-to-use and reliable, we simply won’t sell it.

 

Meet our product review team

Bret Koebbe

Bret Koebbe
Ratings
Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Master Flight Instructor
Title
Vice President, Video—Sporty’s Academy
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Learn To Fly Course - Private Pilot Test Prep (Online and App) 2018 Edition Learn To Fly Course - Private Pilot Test Prep (Online and App) 2018 Edition
The online Learn To Fly Private Pilot Course is the product I’m most proud of. All 3 formats are great but the online format is able to be updated by Sporty’s Academy in real time with new HD video and more in-depth aviation videos as soon as they’re available. It’s the way to go.
As Sporty’s top video producer, Bret is usually flying an interesting airplane, and often with a camera rolling. "I enjoy a mix of both professional and recreational flying at Sporty’s. When instructing, I specialize in Technically Advanced Aircraft, and help pilots make the most WAAS approaches. And for fun I love taking Sporty’s 1963 Aztec out." Bret is also known as "Mr. iPad" at Sporty’s, and is the lead tester for the latest apps and accessories for mobile devices.

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters
Ratings
Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine, Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor.
"My license says English Proficient, but my Senior English teacher, Lynda McKee, might take exception to that."
Title
Flight School Manager—Sporty's Academy
Charlie learned to fly in college, and has been an avid pilot ever since. He has visited every public-use airport in most of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, "including the expansive 12,000 ft runways of Columbus Rickenbacker (KLCK) and the 24 ft. wide, dogleg right, one way in/same way out, Mallory Airport (WV12) in Charleston." Charlie manages the day-to-day operations of Sporty's flight school, but his most memorable flight was in a rented Skyhawk over the active Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.

Chris Clarke

Chris Clarke
Ratings
Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating
Title
Media & Content Coordinator—Sporty’s Academy
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Flight Gear HP Captain's Bag Flight Gear HP Captain's Bag
The Captain's Flight Gear Bag is my go-to-bag when heading out for a day or two. When I fly to Sun 'N Fun or Oshkosh the Captain's bag hold everything I need for flying plus two changes of clothes. It's a great overnight bag.
Having a childhood dream of aviation, Chris first became an Aviation Explorer, which motivated him to earn his private pilot's license as a teenager. During his four years at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University he earned his commercial, multi-engine certificate with an instrument rating. While experimenting in seaplanes, gliders, and a variety of other personal aircraft, Chris developed a passion for general aviation and shares that passion as he develops aviation training apps and content for Sporty’s Pilot Shop. He's also an experienced drone pilot.

Chuck Gallagher

Chuck Gallagher
Ratings
Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, FAA Repairman Certificate
Title
President—Cincinnati Avionics
President—Eastern Cincinnati Aviation
Chuck holds the record at Sporty’s for fastest flight training program—he earned his Recreational Certificate in just two weeks. He later added a Private Certificate, plus Multi-engine and Instrument ratings. Today, he enjoys recreational flying more than anything, "whether it’s a morning flight for breakfast at a nearby airport or a trip with the family." Chuck is the airport manager for I69 and is also the President of Cincinnati Avionics, Sporty’s on-site avionics shop. His expertise in aviation electronics is invaluable in developing and testing new products, from portable radios to ADS-B Out transponders.

Doug Ranly

Doug Ranly
Ratings
Private Pilot, Instrument Rating
Title
Catalog Manager—Sporty’s Pilot Shop
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Flight Gear HP iPad Bag Flight Gear HP iPad Bag
The iPad is a must have while I'm flying and my flight bag reflects that. This iPad Flight Gear HP bag is perfect for not only carrying, but organizing the gear I need to fly with my iPad. It's durable and protects my gear so I don't worry about tossing it in the back.
Doug flies because it’s fun – pure and simple. One of his favorite rituals is to get up at the crack of dawn and and go flying to find a greasy spoon at one of the many airport cafes around Sporty’s. “There’s nothing better than eating biscuits and gravy at a restaurant 70 miles away before starting your day,” says Doug. His airplane of choice is a G1000-equipped Cessna 172S. He is also Sporty’s most active product tester, and as an Eagle Scout and a US Army veteran, his standards are high. “I believe a product should work the first time right out of the box, and preferably without instructions.”

Eric Carnahan

Eric Carnahan
Ratings
Commercial Pilot, Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor
Title
Ask a Pilot Expert—Customer Service
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Instant IFR Training Glasses Instant IFR Training Glasses
These IFR training foggles are cheap and easy to use. They easily fit into my flight bag and there's 3 available tint options to choose from. What more could you need?
Eric has always been interested in flying, and his father paid to have he and his brother go up in a Cessna. He started with control line aircraft and then progressed to building and flying radio controlled aircraft. After retiring from the Navy he decided that it was time to learn to fly real aircraft. His only regret is that he did not learn sooner. The real pleasure of flying for Eric is flying Young Eagles for the EAA's Young Eagles program. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than taking a young person up for their first GA flight. Now he feels lucky to work at Sporty's.

Eric Radtke

Eric Radtke
Ratings
Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Boeing 727 SIC Qualification, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor, Master Flight Instructor
Title
President—Sporty’s Academy
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth
The Bose A20 is my favorite headset by far. I love the Active Noise Reduction quality and the comfort is unbeatable, in my opinion. Another often forgot convenience benefit is the battery life of over 45 hours.
It was his first airplane trip at age seven that made Eric decide to become a pilot. "While boarding the airplane, a flight attendant noticed my interest in the flight deck and urged me to go talk to the pilot. I give a lot of credit to that pilot for my career choice." He learned to fly at Sporty’s as part of the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Program, an initiative he now directs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and went on to an airline career. Eric now heads Sporty’s flight school and directs the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Training Program. In addition, Eric serves as a Captain in Sporty’s corporate flight department.

Hal Shevers

Hal Shevers
Ratings
Airline Transport Pilot, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Instrument Flight Instructor, Member of the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame
Title
Founder/Chairman—Sporty’s Pilot Shop
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Sporty's SP-400 Handheld NAV/COM Aviation Radio Sporty's SP-400 Handheld NAV/COM Aviation Radio
Since our very first product was an aviation radio, I’m partial to our SP-400 Hand-held NAV/COM. It’s an amazingly powerful radio, and one I never could have dreamed of in 1961.
Hal founded Sporty’s over 50 years ago as a young flight instructor, and he’s been flying and teaching aviation ever since. In the mid-1960s, he pioneered the three day ground school, and spent many years traveling the country teaching pilots to earn their instrument rating. Along the way, he logged thousands of hours in Sporty’s famous red Piper Aztec. Today, with over 12,000 hours in the logbook, Hal still enjoys flying over 200 hours per year. “Some of my most enjoyable hours have been spent in airplanes, and it is this passion that drives the whole Sporty’s team.”

J.C. Mayerle

J.C. Mayerle
Ratings
Recreational Pilot
Title
Marketing Email Manager/ New Product Specialist - Sporty's Pilot Shop
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Flight Gear HP iPad  Kneeboard Flight Gear HP iPad Kneeboard
The iPad Bifold HP Kneeboard is my favorite way to organize the iPad while flying. It's never in the way and it helps keep a few extras nearby like pens and charging cables. I also love how versatile it is. I can use it as a lap desk, let the side hang down my leg or fold it under to be the most compact. It also easily fits in my flight bag.
J.C. learned to fly at Sporty’s Academy after graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business. His father is an ATP and A&P/IA, so he's been flying in and working on airplanes with his dad since he was old enough to hand him a wrench. J.C. has worked at Sporty’s for over 5 years and says he loves every minute of it. Currently he develops the weekly emails you may get from Sporty’s and finds new products for pilots that help making flying easier and even more fun.

John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman
Ratings
Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine, Instrument Rating, Helicopter Rating, Glider Rating, Seaplane Rating
Title
Vice President, Catalog Division—Sporty’s Pilot Shop
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Stratus™ 2S ADS-B Receiver for iPad Stratus™ 2S ADS-B Receiver for iPad
The Stratus 2S has changed the way I and many pilots fly. The list of benefits is long but it all boils down to one thing. I have information in the cockpit while I'm flying that let's me make better, more informed decisions so I can fly more often.
John was a Sporty’s customer before he was an employee, learning to fly at a neighboring airport in Cincinnati and regularly attending Sporty’s famous hot dog cookouts. Today, he enjoys flying just about anything with wings—fixed or rotary. He regularly uses airplanes for cross-country transportation, for both business and pleasure. “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. It’s both challenging and immensely rewarding to manage the aircraft systems, ATC and the changing weather. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on an approach is a thrill.”

Mark Wiesenhahn

Mark Wiesenhahn
Ratings
Recreational Pilot
Title
Vice President, Business Relations/Marketing - Sporty's Pilot Shop
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Sporty's Electronic E6B Flight Computer Sporty's Electronic E6B Flight Computer
When I was training for my first pilot's license the electronic E6B saved me time flight planning. But most importantly, it made my calculations on the written test faster and easier. I wouldn't want to take an exam without one.
Mark Wiesenhahn is a vice president at Sporty’s, where he has worked for the past 25 years. In addition to his administrative duties managing Sporty’s dealers and vendors and directing media relations and trade show participation, Mark works closely with Sporty’s partnerships within the industry including AOPA and EAA. He is actively involved in promoting Aviation Exploring and has been an Exploring advisor for 20 years. He serves on the Executive Committee of Learning for Life Organization as the Exploring Chair. Mark is a recreational pilot.

Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf
Ratings
Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, Cessna Citation Type Rating, Glider Rating
Title
President & CEO
Michael has worked at Sporty’s for over 40 years, so he knows both Sporty’s and the aviation industry quite well. A pilot for over 30 years, aviation is Michael’s first love: “I just can’t imagine life without airplanes.” While he flies a Citation regularly, most of his time is spent in the left seat of Sporty’s Aztec. “It’s a joy to fly an airplane that’s over 50 years old, but one that’s been meticulously maintained. It’s like stepping back in time, but I still get excellent utility out of it, for both family trips and business.”

Paul Jurgens

Paul Jurgens
Ratings
Airline Transport Pilot, Seaplane Rating, Flight Instructor, Instrument Flight Instructor, Multi-engine Flight Instructor, Glider Instructor, Instrument Ground Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor, Master Flight Instructor, Master Ground Instructor
Title
Vice President, Publications—Sporty’s Academy
Favorite Sporty’s Product
Carbon Monoxide Cockpit Monitor Carbon Monoxide Cockpit Monitor
I fly multiple aircraft regularly. Having an accurate CO detector in my flight bag is great insurance. I love that this has a digital readout in ppm, light, noise and vibrating alarms to grab my attention in an emergency.
Paul is a true aviation educator, and one of only a handful of flight instructors in the world to have earned both the Master Flight Instructor and Master Ground Instructor certifications. “I really enjoy teaching, especially in the Aztec.” Paul also teaches several classes at the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot program, including weather theory. When he’s not teaching, you’ll find Paul flying an Aztec or a Cessna 182 for personal transportation.